“Death of the Author” and Intertextuality | LITERARY THEORY #4


Another social and literary critic and theorist
who made use of intertextual theory was French literary theorist Roland Barthes. Barthes’s position on intertextuality,
his belief in plurality and the freedom of all readers from constraints is characteristically
post-structuralist. Hi, this is Mihnea. Welcome to UpLife. In this video lesson we will look at what
the “Death of Author” means in intertextuality. Concerned with the role of the author in the
production of meaning, Roland Barthes believed that literary meaning can never be fully grasped
by the reader, because the intertextual nature of literary works always leads readers on
to new textual relations. Authors, therefore, cannot be held responsible
for the multiple meanings readers discover within literary texts. Thus, Barthes proclaimed the
“death of the Author”, and viewed this situation as a liberation for readers. He believed that all literary productions
take place in the presence of other texts, and only through intertextuality are texts
allowed to come into being. In his essay “Theory of the Text,” published
in “Untying the Text. A Post-Structuralist Reader” edited by Robert
Young, Roland Barthes writes: “Any text is a new tissue of past citations. Bits of code, formulae, rhythmic models, fragments
of social languages, etc., pass into the text and are redistributed within it, for there
is always language before and around the text. Intertextuality, the condition of any text
whatsoever, cannot, of course, be reduced to a problem of sources or influences; the
intertext is a general field of anonymous formulae whose origin can scarcely ever be
located; of unconscious or automatic quotations, given without quotation marks.” Thus, writing is always an iteration which
is also a re-iteration, a re-writing which foregrounds the trace of the various texts
in both knowing and unknowing places. It is important to note that these elements
of intertextuality need not be simply “literary.” One also has to take into account historical
and social determinants which, themselves, transform and change literary practices. Moreover, strictly speaking, a text is constituted,
only in the moment of its reading. The reader’s own previous readings, experiences
and position within the cultural formation also form crucial connections,
and open new doors to intertextuality. If you want to find out more about
“the Death of the Author”, I recommend you have a look at Laura Seymour’s book
“Roland Barthes’s The Death of the Author”. See the Amazon link in the description below. The inspiration for this Literary Theory series
about intertextuality is based on my book, “The Matrix and the Alice Books.” Consider supporting our project by purchasing a copy. The Kindle edition is only 99 cents. Check out the Amazon link in the description below. To make sure you don’t miss the next episode,
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